Tearing off the wing of an angel.


In a still very present past, I’ve fallen pregnant…

Fallen, yes. I crashed, plummeted. Appalled and stunned that Mother Nature screwed me over.  As if I thought my uterus was a dusty old organ that had lost its capacity to create over time.

Now accustomed that my bleedings disobeyed the moons, I was taking a brisk walk on a just as much of a brisk afternoon, when my boobs sounded the alarm. I stopped. I touched my breasts, palmed the sides, weighed them, while I got catcalled and honked.


Ho, no!

No no no! I sit on a concrete block to give me time process. I remember the night probably responsible for the Maculate Conception. I lie to myself, deny, justify and put in perspective. No. I can’t trust my gut, or my breasts. A pregnancy test will know better than me if I’m knocked up.

The two small lines on the stick are giving me double fingers. Procter and Gamble are positive: «Congratulations! If you don’t stop the course of action, you’re gonna be a Mom!» What to do? At an age when one is almost a Grandma, can I afford to give a little brother or sister to my adult son? Do I have the heart, the mind and the wallet to do this again?

The answer is no.


Oh, dear God, please, no.

I make an appointment at the women’s center. In ten days at 8 am. Ten days is very long. That leaves time to feel things happen inside. I alternate between:  “Do I keep it?”, “Do l tell the guy?” and “Do I have the balls to deduct this expense from my taxes?”

A-Day comes. I am so lucky not to live in a city of rednecks who protest in front of clinics with pictures of pseudo-foetuses drenched in ketchup. No. I am greeted with kindness and regards. Everywhere hush and whispers. People are roaming on the tips of their hearts. It smells of love with a faint scent of demise.

In the waiting room, some women, some girls. We avoid eye contact. There is a sense of discomfort, a kind of shame at having been “had”.  I’m the oldest and the youngest isn’t more than fifteen. Poor little trembling thing. I would take her in my arms, but her boyfriend is rubbing her back, baseball cap lowered on his guilt.

When they call her, the pimply one remains, hiding behind his cell that he is asked to turn off. He nervously takes a Martha Stewart magazine and pretends to be interested in the making a sweet potato pie.

It’s my turn. They offer me a special herb tea and some breathing techniques for the pain. Or, if I prefer: drugs. I opt for total numbness. I am not lectured, but I am advised to be careful next time. Yes, I messed up, Ma’am. I messed up bad. I won’t do it no more, cross my ticker and hope to die. Let’s go! Get that thing out of me before I get attached!

Naked from the belt down, I lay on the table, feet in stirrups. Like at the dentist, I am asked to «open wide». I spread. I get… prepped.  A needle pricks my wall. It’s a bit painful and I panic. I don’t want to suffer. I am calmed and comforted while a machine rumbles Agnn! Agnn! Agnn! Agnn! Agnn! Agnn! A sound of utter doom.

Each step is explained. I’d prefer not. I play brave, fingers joined on my thumping plexus. I look up to the sky, with a fleeting thought for Jesus shaking his thorn crown with disappointment. Just when I think the sound of the machine is unbearable, the vacuum kicks in.

Shhhrrrrrooooogggglllll !!! It slurps my insides like a gruesome Hoover and I see pink slush come out the tube. Oooh, forgive me, tiny one, forgive me!! I close my eyes on the horrible gurgling that follows.

They reassure me they’ll be done soon. There is only the curettage left. It scratches; it pulls; it tugs and it cleans. Despite my efforts, a tear runs down in my ear. One of the nurses strokes my hair. I am told that it’s over. I get up on my elbows, dazed. And I don’t know why, but I want to see.

After a slight hesitation, they show me half of a peanut explaining that this is the embryo. Then, they show me a small transparent film welded to my almost baby. It’s the amniotic sac. Looks like the wing of an angel.

I am brought to a recovery room. There’s the girl and her boyfriend. She’s crying a river. The young man consoles her as best he can, head down, tail between his legs. Again, I am offered herb tea plus some oatmeal cookies. Thank you, but no thank you.

The days that follow will be filled with successive waves of relief, emptiness, sobs, blood and back to relief. I made the right choice. But it is impossible for me not to think that I’ve killed a piece of the future to save mine.

An abortion is a necessary privilege. But it would be outrageous to think that this is an easy solution for us. On all the faces, that day, there was an infinite sadness in front of ultimatum. From now on, these girls will ponder from time to time: “Today, he or she would be two…  five…  ten years old…»

We are free women. It’s not for others to decide how to take life in our hands…

… Or how to survive with death on our souls.



Putting on the passenger brakes.

driving For many miles now, I’ve been walking from one place to another with a great shame that eats away at the metal of my pedal. Yes, I must confess : I don’t have my driver’s licenses.

At my age, It runs my battery down to see that a smart girl like me has to beg for lifts to get where the subway doesn’t. It’s humiliating indeed. But it seems that my humiliation has never been stronger than the terror of getting myself on the left side of the fuzzy dice.

I’m scared. A fear that clogs my engine and keeps me stalled on the side of the road for no good reason. I’d like to say that it’s because I saw the head of a cousin explode on the dashboard of the blue Chrysler of my childhood, but I would be lying. No. No trauma, no nothing. Just a foolish and unexplained fear.

I watched my life pass by as a passenger, forehead against the window, the pylons making my subservient eyes ping pong endlessly. I remained in neutral, unable to grasp the stick shift of my fate and kick in high gear. It’s as if I expected that some kind of father would yell at me : Come on, get in! I’ll show you how it works!”. Or a mother would shout : “Let’s go, we’re getting your learner’s permit, I’m sick of lugging you!”. But that never came because, because, because the wonderful wizard of was.

So, like a paraplegic of the reasoning, I remained parked in the paved driveway of my existence, still waiting for something or someone to make me start my engine. Well,la-di-dah, champ! Here’s a button to pin on your retarded racing hat!

What do I fear? Losing control ? Dying ? Killing? All that stuff, and looking like a fool. I drown my carburetor with stress. What if I ride like an old lady with hazards on from here to eternity? I have so little sense of direction that I get lost exiting the bathroom in restaurants. It promises on the way to Wall Mart! And I’m the kind of ditzy girl who puts Polysporin® on her toothbrush, for sure I’ll end up in the ditch!

In short, I boosted the negative so much that I’ve decided it would be better to continue my journey, knees in the glove box. To give you an idea how my headlights are on low beams: I started cycling at 32… Yes, 32 years old!! My Lord and Savior, it’s a miracle I know how to tie my shoes. What kind of hitchhiker’s karma did I stick under my windshield wiper?

But for months now, my fan belt has begun to run: If I can drive a bike in the streets of Montreal and the steep mountains of Quebec, I can pilot a car!! I’ll get my cards instead of a boyfriend or a cab. I will kick my funk to the curb and hop behind the wheel. I keep repeating that “Fears are smaller than they appear” and I get pumped. I look in the rear-view mirror and visualize myself on the saddle :

“ ’the hell … ? Why won’t she start ? I plugged her all night ! ”

Ah, man … How expensive is the go go juice these days ! God damn !! ”

– “Ok, I’ll have to call you back, the cops are on my ass…”

– “Did I just miss my exit… ? Maybe if… ? Woah, hold your horses ! What’s your problem? Geez!

– “Holy fuck ! It’s a one way !”

And my all time favorite :

– Come on, bitch! It’s fucking green !! I’m going somewhere now and I’m going somewhere fast, so step on it !!”

Vroomvroomvroom! Mipmiiiiiiiiip!! *Give finger*


Can’t wait.

Full moon throttle.


I don’t know what it is with that shaft of sun bouncing on our satellite, but that does it for me. When the moon is full, I ware-wolf and writhe, hungry for the elements of sex. Fire, water, earth, air. Lust, fluid, flesh, breath. Yes. It’s under the orb of light that I’m the worst.

Or the best. It depends.

Depends if I’m in love or if you’re just there to calm my cravings. On these nights, my tide is high and I’m foaming at the shore. I want you to eat me with your eyes, I want to grab you, to trouble you. Yes, I’m looking for trouble. Let me take you by the collar and pardon my French. I will inhale your warm sighs and your smell will turn me on, whether Cologne or stale sweat.

Let our teeth collide, it’s okay. Anyway, I will bite your lower lip while I press your body to the wall with my pelvis. Yes. I will trust my hips against your groin to feel the blood flow. I will undulate like a feverish Scheherazade. I’ve been copulating for thousands of years and it has always been good. Even when it was bad.

I will slide my fingers in your undies, and if you’re a man, seize the opportunity. If you’re a woman, I’ll make a grand entrance. I’m going to firmly take the pulse of the situation. I’m too famished for you to hesitate.

Your turn now. You’re dying to touch me, right ? Striptease me or rip everything off and make me goddess. Forgive my elbow when removing my shirt, I’m flustered. Yes, swallows my breasts. Cup, pinch and back to my lips so I can suck your soul…

Let me bow down, prostrate on your organs and let my tongue take your measurements. Tickle my nostrils with your pubic hair or prick my nose because you shave, I don’t give a damn. I will lift up my eyes to yours and gaze while your face betrays pleasure.

We will collapse on the ground or do it on the bed, the couch, the steps, the kitchen counter or on top of the washer, if your calves can bare the cramps of being a bit too short. Shag me, snag me and take me whole. I will wrap my legs around you and hold on to your shoulders to keep from falling. Let me ride you and test the legs of your Ikea furniture. I’ll make myself heard by your neighbours, I’m afraid.

Then, let’s take our time, almost at a stand still, so I can impale myself just right. I’ll put my hand on your throat. Maybe force the corners of your mouth with my thumb. You’ll grab my rump and churn until I growl clenched jaw obscenities.

Spit on your dick and let’s go Greek, I don’t mind. Tear me up or caress me, be tender or mean, but don’t leave me indifferent. I already forgive you if you blast and spill too soon because you’re young and inexperienced. I will also excuse your nose bleed on my back because you’re old and badly react to Cialis.

I will sit on your face and pin your arms under my knees so you can rest a little. I will pull your hair, if you have some. I will scratch your neck, if you wish so. I will whisper encouraging dirty moans while licking your earlobes, if it turns you on.

I’m ready, I’m easy. I’m messy, I’m yours. I need you to bump and grind, screw and nail, rock and roll, slap and tickle. I’m a cat in heat that wants to lion her head against your chin.

Come on, fuck me or worship me, but make that pain in my marrow disappear. Fill and fulfill me. If the stars are aligned well, I’ll probably squirt like the Bellagio in Vegas, you’ll have to change your sheets. Finally, sweaty and satisfied, I will fall asleep with your semen as a rejuvenating cream.

If I’m in love, I’ll stay for coffee and more, half a sugar, a cloud of milk. I love you. Me too. It was wonderful yesterday…

If not, we’ll meet once in a blue moon. Don’t miss me, I should visit again. Maybe…. After all, I’m like silverware, I’ll tarnish if it don’t get polished from time to time …

Yes, it’s the mornings after the full moon that I’m the worse.

Or the best. It depends…

A day in the life of a professional procrastinator.


7:00 am: My alarm is taunting me to get up, get up, get up! I squander time by making small circles in the air with my arms. I bubble my saliva. I smooth my cheeks, smooth my pillow. I rest my eyes for two minutes.

8:00 am: Wake up, startled. The dried slime glues me the pillowcase. I look around the room with an half-closed peeper. I scratch the crunchy granola on the corner of the other. Today, I’ve got myself a deadline. Come on, let’s get a move on! I persuade myself, motionless.

9:00 am: I facebook until the coffee whips. I email and surf the insipid web growling and stretching. I open my work to be done. Definitely another cup of joe before anything.

10:00 am: I toil, swinging my leg.  My toenails look like guitar picks. I jab my claws in my calves trying to get me to punch a clock. The hell with it, let’s get the clipper. Well, might as well take a shower…

11:00 am: The keys of my keyboard cliquety-clack in a silence that my neighbours are destroying with audible conversations filled with nothingness. Ok. I’ll put on music to cover their yakety-yaks.

Noon: I realize that I’ve been raspy weeping with Billie Holiday for at least three songs while my cursor blinks on my document, awaiting orders. I throw my paws on my lap top and boom, I block. Well… shit.  I grumble some kind of appetite. Guess I’ll make myself a cucumber sandwich.

1 pm: I come back to my writing den with cucumbers and Scotch. I place the expensive bottle above the bookcase, out of the reach of my tippy toes. Push it further, making it unattainable. I splosh mayo on fresh bread and slice the cucurbit. Stare at nothing for a bit.

2 pm: I check again if facebook has anything to say. Twenty minutes later, I realize that it doesn’t. Enough! To the dough winning, now! I read what I have done so far. I get discouraged. Dorothy Parker I’ll never be. The blues are making me dark. I turn off the stereo. I notice the dust. I grab a Swiffer.

3 pm: OK! Let’s go! The job won’t get done by itself! I day dream an elf that would liberate me from the didactics and allow me to be just creative. I would call him Watson. And feed him chocolate with fleur de sel … I sigh and force my hands into writer’s hooks. GO!

4 pm: I progress. But as slow as a torture. I feel like smoking a cigarette.  No.  No ifs or butts. You’re not a cliché, you’re not Hemmingway. Dense sentences are dancing on the monitor. I feel I’m putting back the idiot in idioms. I sense failure. I rest my forehead on my fear disguised as laziness.

5 pm: I hesitate, doubt, shilly-shally, wonder, grovel, linger, muck about, fuck around, drag, skepticize, criticize, vagabond, delay, labour, struggle, slave and slack with a vague impression of production. But paragraphs are shelled as an apathetic and indolent rosary.

6 pm: I discover that time has split and has left me with a deadline, chin resting in his palm, tapping his impatience on my desk.  I am facing the void with vertigo of feat that foils my fire.

7 pm: I freak a little. I dive in, ignoring my distracting alter egos ready to dangle time consuming pleasures. Shhh! Mommy is choring painfully but surely. Nothing will stop m … Crap, a call from abroad. It might be important.

8 pm: I panic. My neck is crooked above the screen that illuminates a face probably stuck between frown and lip biting. The idea of not finishing on point and lose my good reputation compels me to go into a spawning hubbub.

9 pm: I bad trip. That’s it. I won’t be able to finish the damn thing. I back burnered my sinecure and they’ll finally discover my usurpation of an expert hack. I will lose my contracts and will have nothing else to lose but my time. Oh, the irony.  And now my brain springs into imperative mode. The dam is opened and the flow rages. I dash, muses between teeth.

10 pm: I write. I rewrite. I erase. I carriage return. I control save. I see the light at the end of the mouse. I will get there despite partial paralysis of my right buttock sitting on my formicated left foot. I glance at the perched bottle. I pull my chair up to it.

11 pm: I go back one last time on the text. I let the burning amber massage my aches from the inside. I dip my USB key into the slot of my thinking machine and backup. They’ll receive it all for tomorrow morning as promised. A click on the trombone and I trumpet “send” aloud.

Midnight: I chow-down on a blowout. TV mouths as a lame dumb ass in the back ground.  I should do my taxes, laundry, see a friend, go the doctor for my thing. Tomorrow, maybe I’ll have a second. I yawn all uvula out.

1 am: I youtube lullabies like a bedridden foetus. Glad I overcame what seemed a rugged and inhospitable mountain. But tomorrow, I’ll start over again. Tomorrow is always the busiest day of my week…


My father, the mad man.


“Schizophrenia with paranoid delusions.” The lady doctor drops the diagnosis, her features pinched with that «I’m sorry to tell you» mouth. My father takes my hand with his long and dirty nails. He squeezes hard. Me too. I am thirty years old, he’s fifty. We both realize that, now, I have to be there for a father who abandoned me.

Very young, it was over with my mother, but he came by. Handsome, so tall and charismatic. He would belt out a folk song strumming his guitar, sitting on my tiny chair, his velvet flares worn at the knees. Then, one day, he didn’t come back.

So I sublimated.  My dad was a famous Irish singer, with his touch of auburn hair, his proud forehead and that arched nose cutting the air as he sailed for glory and adventure. I waited to be of age and of strength to go ring at his door. He opened, as handsome as I remembered.

I enter his apartment. It’s dark, it’s dirty, it stinks. My father is breathing hard and sweating profusely, his eyes wild. Discomfort comes and plays Twister with my gut and my stomach. The stranger in front of me is amazed of how we look alike, how well I speak English. He then tells me things that I recognize as lies, fabrications. I share a coffee in a dubious cup, synthesizing my 15 years without him. I give him a picture of me and promise to come see him again. Once on the pavement, my heart beats punctuate my disappointment. Mad. My father is mad.

We try to bond, awkwardly. But I’m damaged and aloof. He is flayed and fearful. It makes for vertigo ridden conversations. He is mainly a recluse, having pushed away family and friends. I sense that I am all he has and my instinct sounds the alarm. I move away from the drowning man. To save my life, cowardly.

He calls sometimes, wishes I would visit more often. Elusive, I make excuses. I forsake the one who has left me. Until the day I receive a visit from the police. My father ran almost naked in a park, prey to obvious distress. I’m not surprised, but riddled by painful guilt.

They put him under medication, under psychological counselling and under my care.  I’m with him to appointments and I look after him, but keep my distance. I offer many fudge-sicles under the sun, trying to cheer him up, but his life is dark. He feels overwhelmed and so do I.

From time to time, the hospital phones to tell me that he has had a fit, was picked up, and placed in the psychiatric ward for a few days. I bring him clean underwear, socks, Ferrero Rocher. I’m so sad for him; I believe that there is nothing to do, that he is broken beyond repair.

One January evening, six years after his forced return into my life, I get a call. Am I my father’s daughter? Yes, I answer, what has he done now? They inform me that he is dead.

My dad … Mon papa … Me Da … I am both relieved and shattered. Relieved to announce to his family, I barely knew, that he passed from a heart attack, standing in the street, rather than by hanging himself in despair. Relieved that his suffering is finally over. And relieved to no longer be responsible of the insane.

The next day, I get to his apartment before his sister and brothers arrive.  The place is disgusting, I’m used to it, but without him in it, it’s worse. I take a good look, as I never really dared before: The blankets nailed to windows because the light prevented him from sleeping. The walls covered with fabric and cardboard boxes to muffle the sounds of “neighbors” who were talking all the time and too loudly. The whatever picked up in the trash and now trinkets. The garbage bags stapled to the floor because it was raining all night in his head. And in a corner: a child’s sled … My soul squeezes and my heart falters.

He had recovered it for my boy. He wanted to take him tobogganing on the Mont-Royal near his place. I always found a reason for my son and my dad to not see each other too often or too long. My father did not get to play with my son. And the shame of him became the shame of me.  The remorse still gnaws at me to this day, overwhelms me whole.

The small sled leaning on the dirt and residues screams the horror and tragedy of the situation and I crack. I collapse on the Glad trash bags. I weep for failing another human being. My father did not die of his mental illness. He died of the isolation that it brings. He died of a real tenderness deficiency, a lack of hugs, soft words of encouragements and love. His friends and relatives have neglected him because they were powerless in the face of madness.

I wish he didn’t let go of my hand when I was little. I wish I didn’t let go, later on. I should have gotten help to cope instead of managing alone. Now, I’m left with only regret and sorrow.

I cleaned the grime and sorted his possessions for days. I kept some of his paintings, his guitars, his journals, his baby shoe cast in bronze, an old baseball and some of his ashes. And I often re-read the last few sentences left on his old typewriter, just to remember his essence, the texture of his spleen, the smell of his ailing.

«Hanging on by the very skin of my teeth

Winter is coming. I should visit my mother. Maybe next week.

I’m making job appointments, not keeping ’em.

A new wrinkle in my life.

My Place is imperfection, always a dangerous time.

I’m hearing voices and noises from my neighbors.

The knives are sharp and the gun is loaded.

We will see if my landlord fixed my thermostat.

At least, my typewriter works.

The music starts to get peaceful.

I must rethink Many Things.

I have a virgin canvas and must find a way to break down and write a song.

I am so old, the World Has Changed Beond recocgnition

And my spelling sucks …»


May you rest in peace, me Da, and May I find a way to live in peace.





Time to feel the moist.


It’s time for hot steamy weather. Time for damp washcloths on the nape of necks and makeshift fans. Time for sighs, moans and groans. Time for heat wave nights where we spread ourselves, making angels on top of our sheets. It’s sticky, sweaty and the streets are filled with screams.

Yes, it’s time to speak loudly outside. To swirl the scorching smog with our suddenly erectile bodies. Time to buy a small cotton dress and cherry red lipstick. Time to seek the patios, the men and the cold pitchers of beer.

This is the time for picnics with family and friends. In freshly mowed parks, Frisbees are thrown to the unleashed dogs and fines are given by pigs. It’s time to air the guitar and ventilate the lungs. It’s full of joy and laughter and barbecue smells.

It’s time for Monet greens and Van Gogh blues. The time for happy luminosity, that feels great sunshine. It’s time to throw our heads back and offer our throats to the God Ra. It’s time for butterflies, time for petals.

It’s vacation time. Time to become impatient at the border, to get angry at the children in the back. This is the time for mileage and spending.  It’s picture time and pee-pee time and time off and for the last time leave your sister alone.

This is the time of amplified sounds. Time for cicadas and flip-flops. Chirping and screeching and wailing. Yellow helmets whistle girls, white gloves whistle cars. It’s mower, woodpecker and jackhammer time.

It’s time to sweat. Salty pearls that mustache the lips and calcium the armpits. Hairs curl, computers overheat and menopauses swelter. It smells of musk, spice, feet and ass.

This is the time for celebrations, fireworks and pyre. Piñatas, raffles and the gay chatter of toddlers. It’s time to honour the flags and kiss the brides. Honk the soccer goals, bargain the garage sales and crowd the festivals.

It’s time to go to the countryside. Pitch tents, pick raspberries and gather lantern flies. It’s time to scratch the bites and cream the peeling skin. It’s time to hike, kayak and twirl at the end of a rope to plunge into a lake, naked.

This is the time for passion. Humid souls that mate until the wee hours. Couples who howl at each other in front of the disco. This is the time of engorged moons. It’s time for evil forces and feverish crimes.

It’s time for the splitting of the skies. The fresh cooling wind created by a tropical silver shower. It’s time to sprint, to take shelter, to get into a wet t-shirt contest. It rumbles, it flashes, it suddenly pisses down hard and good.

This is the time so longed for. It’s time to revel in it. Because, not tomorrow, but soon, it will be the return of the dark times, the return of the somber times. The windows that we have to close and the woolly clothes.  With all the shudders and the chills of yet another of our proverbial winter.

Handle with care.


We’re at the dawn of a new home. Let’s go. We’re ready to box it off, we’re on the move, let’s bubble wrap this up.

We magic mark “kitchen” on the cardboard. We roll dishcloths around utensils that bear the effects of time and turmeric. We have nothing to cook with. We left the old pots and pans to the son and it’s the ex that had the “top of the line” in stainless. We’ll have to get equipped. We’re a middle aged woman that has to pheonix herself. How cliché.

Our books bust the loosely bonded bottom of the bin. We alternate with stockings and panties to make it lighter. Madame Bovary is alongside Zarathustra eyeing Marilyn. We have way too many books on the pill poppin’ pin up. Paul Auster seems to judge us. Come on, Paul! Come join Anaïs Nin she’ll show you a good time.

Our unclassified paperwork crumples against the tax returns of recent years. Each receipt and invoice proves a certain irresponsibility with money. It’s not that true, would reassure our mom. It is rather quite true, would rectify our accountant. We empty the lot in one swift motion. We’ll get office organized in our new life. But it is to be feared that clutter will follow us until death.

We make the mistake of flipping through an old photo albums. Smiles with missing teeth and protruding ears. Memories of the deceased, places now dynamited, loves before tears. Pictures of our child, rosy cheeks, arms extended towards its reason to live: us. Our baby … The desire of a sob tickles the nose. Quick, we close the flap before nostalgia compresses our throat with its ruthless hands.

We stack video games on the console for future moments of nothing at all. We hesitate with the old DVD’s. We never watch them, anymore. We’re surprised how little music we own. It was always the others who decided of our soundtrack. In our new nest, we will choose to tap our feet to the beat of our own drum.

We persist on bringing clothes that fitted ages ago or never did. We throw in the granny jacket with the whory skirt. A row of pearl offered for our wedding strangles a dusty garter belt. Swarovski crystals sparkle between oils and useless creams. We’re huddling the fuck-me shoes and the sneakers, the blue jeans and the little black dresses.

We’re piling frames that have been around for too long and no longer mean anything to us. Sheets of newspapers on useless trinkets, an old typewriter, a baby shoe of one of our fathers, some of both their ashes, a mold of the fist of our newborn boy, our coat of arms, a Capodimonte, some stuff, some junk, some knicks and some knacks.

There. Our whole existence reduced to a cardboard tower at the center of the room. A slight melancholy sigh at the edge of our lashes. We have to drink …

Let us work on a hangover. Yes. Let’s get numb.

But the wallet remains unfound. Not in the bags, not in the pockets or between the cushions of the couch. Where can it…? We glance at the stack of beige cubes circled with tape.

And then begins the cursing of the saints, an X-Acto knife in hand…